Crunch Time for COTS, Jeff Foust, Space Quarterly
"The next several months represent a critical period of spaceflight. Two companies are planning a series of launches of new rockets carrying spacecraft bound for the International Space Station (ISS). Their goal: to demonstrate that private companies, supported by NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) initiative, can handle the critical task of delivering supplies for the ISS. The stakes are high. If either or both companies succeed, they will demonstrate that private firms are up to the challenge of supporting the ISS, giving the station a new lifeline, all the more critical after the August failure of a Soyuz rocket carrying a Progress cargo spacecraft. If they fail, though, it will raise new doubts that commercial firms can handle the bigger task of crew transportation, while putting the long-term future of the station in jeopardy."